Cat Bath - To Bathe Or
Not To Bathe?

Whether or not to give your cat a cat bath and how often is up to you.


Shorthairs require less bathing than longhairs, and longhairs probably will not require bathing more than a few times a year unless they are show cats.

Over-bathing can dry out the cat’s skin by removing essential oils and cause flakiness or dandruff.


Before you start the cat bath, it is a good idea to:

  • Run the water and get it to the right temperature before bringing your cat into the bathroom. For some cats, the sound of all that rushing water adds to their stress.

  • Temperature test the water with the inside of your wrist. It should be that same temperature to give your cat a bath that it would be for a baby's bath. Warm is good, but not hot.

  • Have everything you need within arm's reach, so you can always have one hand on the cat and still be able to reach the cat shampoo. Given the opportunity for a second, they are going to make a break for it!

  • Have a second person helping you if you have a nervous pet, especially for rinsing.

  • Have towels, cat shampoo, a jug for rinsing, and gloves (if you need them) available.

It is never a good idea to restrain your cat with collars or leashes, especially not tied to anything! Your pet will be nervous, and if they try to run they will injure themselves.

There are many types of cat shampoos and conditioners available, from regular to detangling, hypo-allergenic and oatmeal for sensitive skin. Checking with your vet or groomer during your next visit will help you determine your cat’s skin type (dry? flaky?) and narrow your cat shampoo choice and cat bath schedule.

Don’t use shampoos or conditioners meant for people on your pet! Cats have different requirements than people, and also human shampoos and conditioners will leave residue on the cat’s fur. In people that is OK, but cats bathe themselves with their tongues and will ingest the residue which can be harmful - especially to small or young cats.

Depending on the time of year, for most cats towel drying is fine. One on the floor and another for drying your cat will reduce water cleanup.

Some cats will tolerate being dried with a hairdryer, but not all. After the tub is emptied and you have towel dried your cat, try turning on the hairdryer on low and see how they react. Our longhaired male Drake loves being dried this way, everyone else is fine air-drying. One thing to remember if you use a blow dryer - cats' skin is VERY sensitive and when it is wet it "clumps" so their skin is exposed. The dryer can burn them very easily! Keep the dryer moving all over them - not aimed at one spot - and on a low setting to avoid burns. When in doubt, towel dry and then let them air dry.

When the cat is mostly dry, give them a light brushing to remove loose hair. Cats will also groom themselves a lot while wet - I give them a bit of hairball remedy as soon as possible after bathing to help them with the extra hair.

Another cat bath consideration is the stress on your pet. Some cats enjoy baths, some will tolerate it for a short bath, and some are very stressed by any water touching them.

If your cat is very stressed by baths, one option is using cat bath wipes – moist towelettes made for cats that remove the surface dust, oil, and dirt from the cat’s fur without any of the stress of being immersed in water. These are also good for the cold weather months when giving your cat a bath may make them too chilly.

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